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                                  Reflections on the Bahai teachings

Minor plan, major plan

This posting is from Talisman9 in 2009:

The term “minor plan” has changed its meanings, or been
misunderstood, over time. In Shoghi Effendi’s time it meant the World
Spiritual Crusade, 1953-63. We can see this in Citadel of Faith 140 where, in response to persecution of the Bahais in Iran, he writes:

“the newly launched World Spiritual Crusade, constituting at best only the Minor Plan in the execution of the Almighty’s design for the redemption of mankind—has, as a result of this turmoil ….. suffered a severe setback—yet the over-all Plan of God, moving mysteriously and in contrast to the orderly and well-known processes of a clearly devised Plan, has received an impetus…”

In 1962 the Hands of the Cause who were chosen as Custodians use the term
minor plans to refer to all the Guardian’s plans together:

“… the unfoldment of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Divine Plan, under the aegis of His
divinely appointed successor, has passed through successive stages in its
evolution and reached the point of victory to which the minor plans
concerned with its prosecution, and devised and impelled forward by the
tremendous drive and vision of Shoghi Effendi himself, have brought it.
Many plans, as he himself forecast, will be needed to carry forward the
world-redeeming Message …” (Ministry of the Custodians, p. 384)

Here we see that all of the minor plans are an extension of the Divine Plan
designed by Abdu’l-Baha, and the possibility of a continuation is envisioned.

In 1967 the UHJ uses the term minor plan to refer to the part of
God’s grand design that is given to Bahais to execute (Wellspring of

In the Glossary to Messages to the Bahai World (1996), the editor,
Geoffry W. Marks, has defined the minor plan as:

“The part of God’s Plan that is revealed by Baha’u’llah to His
followers and is laid out for them in detailed instructions and
successive plans by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal
House of Justice. In contrast to the Major Plan of God, it proceeds in
a methodical, ordered way, disseminating His teachings and raising up
the structure of a united world society.”

Here Abdu’l-Baha’s Divine Plan is one stage in the Minor Plan, and
Baha’u’llah and the UHJ have been added to the designers of the
Plan, so the 7-year plan becomes part of the Minor Plan.

In 1998 the UHJ Ridvan message says that “Unlike His Major Plan,
which works mysteriously, God’s Minor Plan is clearly delineated,
operates according to orderly and well-known processes, and has been given
to us to execute. Its ultimate goal is the Most Great Peace.”

To return to your original question, they also note that “At times it may
seem that the operation of the Major Plan causes a disruption in the work
of the Minor Plan.” There’s a similar acknowledgement in the 2003 Ridvan
message. In other words, the much broader definition from Marks is in line
with the UHJ’s usage since then. The Minor Plan, that began as a quite
specific plan drawn up by Shoghi Effendi in 1953 and containing detailed
instructions, is now a metaphysical Plan that exists in heaven, and the
UHJ taps into it somehow to draw from it detailed instructions and plans.
For Shoghi Effendi, the goal of the minor plan was the election for the
UHJ: now it is the Most Great Peace.

I would guess that that the there are two reasons for this broadening of
definition and ambition over time: 1 – it gives legitimacy to the UHJ’s
plans, and 2- there is a perceived analogy between Shoghi Effendi’s terms
Minor Plan and Major Plan and his “two simultaneous processes” – the
religious process being carried out by the Bahais (and *interrupted* while
the Bahais were busy building the Administrative Order) and leading to the
Bahai World Commonwealth, while the political process is carried out by
world leaders and will produce the institutions required for the
establishing the World Order (which are explicitly not the AO
institutions), and ultimately to the “emergence of a world government and
the establishment of the Lesser Peace,” (Citadel of Faith, p. 32). By the
late 1990’s, the minor plan is in effect the religious process, and the
major plan is the political process.

I don’t think this can be found at all in Shoghi Effendi’s one use of the
term minor plan in 1955. What Shoghi Effendi was saying originally was
that, although he had been promised guidance and he had produced the plan
(for the Crusade), there was no guarantee that it would be completed as
envisioned, because God might have other plans – i.e., the future is not
predictable. Some Bahais must have had something of a crisis of Faith when
they found the Guardian had set out a plan containing goals that later
events made impracticable. He is explaining his own limitations, and thus
the limitation of the plan he had produced

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